By Tara Cangialosi
The Fordham men’s soccer team won the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship when it defeated the number one-seeded University of Rhode Island 1-0 on Sunday, Nov. 16.
In addition to the title of A-10 Conference champions, the Rams have earned an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Championship.
It is only the second time in team history that the team has made the NCAA Championship.
The Rams earned five All-Tournament selections, including three freshman, for their prominent play in the A-10 Championship.
Senior goalkeeper Sean Brailey was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP), with 13 saves and two shut-outs.
Freshman Jannik Loebe scored two game-winning goals, freshman Christopher Bazzini had an assist and shined defensively, while freshman Matthew Lewis contributed to the two shutouts on defense.
Graduate student Aleksandar Mastilovic also had two assists, finishing out the Rams’ All-Tournament selections.
Fordham, the six seed, had previously defeated the three seed, VCU, on Thursday in penalty kicks, and the two seed, Saint Louis, 2-1 on Friday before entering today’s contest.
After a scoreless, yet tightly-matched first half, Fordham took the lead 55 seconds into the second half.
There was a scramble in front of the URI goal, and Loebe managed to get his foot on the ball and knock it into the back of the net, giving the Rams the 1-0 lead.
The fight in URI, which went 7-1 during A-10 play this season, was visible in its attempts to get back into the game.
However, the Providence-based Rams could not get through the Bronx-based Rams’ defense, especially in the final five minutes of play. URI’s Matt Sykes blasted a shot with under two minutes to go, but it sailed over the net.
Fordham held on from there to win the championship, celebrating on the field at VCU’s Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Virginia. Fordham got its revenge against URI, who had previously beaten the Rams 1-0 on Jack Coffey field earlier this year.
The Rams will travel home with the A-10 Championship trophy, but will need to get right back to work to prepare for NCAA Championship play.
The NCAA Championship provides for a field of 48 teams, where twenty-three of the teams are conference champions, and the remainder are selected at-large by the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Soccer Committee.
The 2014 Division 1 Championship bracket will be announced prior to first round competition, and depends on the results of conference championships and the additional team selections.
In 2013, the first round games were held on Nov. 21.
Including the wins from the championship, Fordham’s record against A-10 competition is now 6-3-2, and 8-8-4 on the season.
The Rams will look to continue its championship run in the weeks to come. Once the NCAA Championship bracket is announced, the Rams will know who they face in the first round of play.
Tara Cangialosi is the Web Editor for The Fordham Ram.